I recently had the opportunity to be a mentor for people interested in becoming vegan. It was called the Vegan Pledge and it was sponsored by Collectively Free and Peace Advocacy Network. My pledge, Helena, embraced the vegan lifestyle and tried new recipes over the four week pledge. We went to Peacefood Cafe in NYC and talked about being vegan, we exchanged recipes and talked about the social aspects of being vegan. I have loved meeting and getting to knowing her so I'm super excited that she is my guest blogger! Below is an excerpt she wrote about veganism and mindful eating. Thank you for sharing your thoughts, Helena!
My name is Helena and I am new to veganism; Nicole is my vegan mentor. She is kindly lending space on her blog, for me to hash out some of the thoughts that come up as I begin this journey.
Yesterday, the book “Becoming Vegan” by Brenda Davis and Vesanto Melina, finally arrived in the mail. I was eager to get started on this treasure trove of information. Immediately, the opening quote struck me.
“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”
-Martin Luther King
It goes to the very essence of why I am beginning to believe that veganism is necessary—for me. I thought I would share my story here, the moment that got me thinking about the word “vegan.”
Last fall I was reading several books on meditation and observing very generally how I would gloss over things in life. I decided to try a simple exercise: while eating, focus on what you eat. The idea of this exercise is to weave mindfulness into everyday activities and to be reminded of the interconnectedness of all things.
On my plate I had some potatoes, kale, sautéed veggies, and two fried eggs. I was eating a lot of eggs because they are easy to have on hand (now I realize tofu is just as easy to have on hand!). I took my plate to my patio, sat down in a comfortable position, marveled for a moment at the flowers, and began to eat. I was struck by how many images would come to my mind with the simple act of being mindful of my food. As I ate the potatoes and veggies, I envisioned blue skies, golden fields of grain, the smell of grass and healthy soil. Then, I got to the eggs, and the images stopped! Just stopped. No sky, no open fields, no sun, nothing. I tried harder, and a vision of grey factory wall fluttered into consciousness, disappearing quickly.
From this moment on I began to wonder, is it possible to eat animal products and to be fully aware? Can I be mindful of the present moment while eating a chicken? I think that for me the answer is no. With this observation, the decision to not eat animal products began to look less like a choice and more like a door. I feel that what Martin Luther King said has a lot to do with this door. If I do not walk through it, my life will forever be confined to the space before the door, and in not moving forward, my life force will begin to die. I don’t know what such doors different people face in their lives, but I do feel strongly that it is important to walk through those doors that one does come across.
Thank you Nicole for helping me to open this one particular door.